More than 4,000 reports on food or feed risks were filed by member states to the European Commission this past year.
In 2019, 4,118 original notifications were transmitted through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) which gave rise to 10,388 follow-up notices compared to 3,699 original notifications in 2018.
A small decline in follow-ups was because of the conversations feature in iRASFF. In 2019, more than 2,600 conversations were conducted in this application.
Aflatoxins in nuts remained the most frequently reported issue in food checked at EU borders.
China regained the top spot as the country responsible for origin of the most reports followed by Turkey and Poland with more than 300 and the United States with 220.
A total of 64 reports were triggered by a food poisoning event. Forty related to foodborne outbreaks in 2019. From these notices, 14 identified Salmonella as the probable cause, 11 were about Listeria monocytogenes and seven cited norovirus. Eight reports related to multi-country foodborne outbreaks.
Aflatoxin and Salmonella issues
Germany made the most original reports followed by the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Italy in the network’s 40th anniversary year. The U.K. could lose access to RASFF information once it has left the European Union.
The top notices by notifying country were from Netherlands concerning aflatoxins in nut products and seeds. Second was by the UK regarding 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) in food supplements and dietetic foods followed by Czech Republic because of Salmonella in poultry products.
The main notifications by country of origin saw Poland come up tops because of Salmonella in poultry, followed by Salmonella in nut products and seeds from Sudan, and 80 reports for aflatoxins in the same product category from the United States with Salmonella in herbs and spices from Brazil in fourth.
A significant part of RASFF notifications on products from EU countries concern pathogenic microorganisms in food of animal origin. There was a 17 percent increase in reports on pathogenic microorganisms in 2019 compared to 2018.
Salmonella is the most frequently reported pathogen in food from member countries. There were 181 reports for poultry products from Poland. About half of these concerned Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium. Fourteen operators were found to have recurrent problems.
Listeria monocytogenes in cold-smoked fish and ready-to-eat meat products caused foodborne outbreaks this past year. It was reported 16 times in cheese from France, often made from raw milk, and two firms were identified as having recurrent problems.
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli caused 32 reports and was most often found on non-heat treated meat products and cheeses. There were 17 reports concerning norovirus, eight of which reported the virus in live oysters from France. Two reports were related to frozen red currants from Poland.
Products from outside Europe
Allergen notifications went up by 30 percent to 194. Milk, gluten and soya are the most commonly reported. Cereals and bakery products are most often reported. Foreign bodies caused 137 reports. The three most frequently reported types are metal, glass and plastic.
Mycotoxins was the most reported hazard on products from non-member countries with 534 reports. The main country of origin for aflatoxins was Turkey, with more than 100 notifications. Ochratoxin A is mostly found in fruits and vegetables, in particular raisins and dried figs. Turkey was again the top country of origin for it.
Pathogenic microorganisms caused almost 400 reports on products from countries outside Europe. Salmonella was mostly notified in sesame seeds, followed by in herbs and spices. Sudan was the main country of origin but 65 notices listed Salmonella in black pepper from Brazil.
In 2019, the most reported pesticide was chlorpyrifos that can no longer be used in the EU. Seventeen reports concerned tea, mostly from China. As many as 188 of the 253 reports are rejections at the border meaning the products never entered the EU.
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